This past weekend, Obama left Poland, where he was confronted with the shortfalls that have plagued his presidency in the past seven years: politics, guns, race and war. These seemed to confront him no matter where he went during his two-day stop in the Polish capital of Warsaw. Obama has said he isn’t keen to comment on his legacy, saying he’d rather leave that to history (coincidentally, the same thing Bush said as his reign winded down). Obama has said that he’s more focused on finishing his presidency, and his approval rating among Americans is the highest it’s been in years. Yet that doesn’t mean the realities of his presidency have been forgotten.
In his visit to Poland, Obama made three additional speeches decrying gun violence. He was also plagued by the awkward position of fighting racism while also championing the police, two positions that are starting to become mutually exclusive. This isn’t the first time he’s tried to balance these sentiments, although a Pew poll revealed most Americans don’t think he’s made much progress on race relations. While Obama has recognized that, he also emphasized that such change takes time.
While Obama was focused on what’s going on at home, the European leaders in Warsaw this week were desperate for reassurance from him. Europe is in a precarious position: with the rise of the far right, the weakening of the EU and the influx of refugees, it’s a region with major change. While the consequences of the Brexit vote remain unknown, Obama has urged leaders to execute a responsible divorce between Britain and the EU, and his talks with David Cameron this past weekend were tinged with an air of sadness.
In the face of staunch opposition by the GOP, the mantra of the Obama Administration has been slow progress. How this slow progress continues will be determined by the next President; if Trump gets elected, it will most likely be undone, while it will most likely continue if Clinton gets elected.
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